By Zeeshan Suhail
Eager young pupils are among the villagers trying to rebuild their lives in areas of Pakistan devastated by floods six months ago.
KASHMORE DISTRICT, Sindh province, Pakistan, 4 April 2013 – On a bright, sunny morning, children disembark from a boat in Kandhkot and run excitedly towards their school – or what remains of it.
|UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on how children in Pakistan are faring in the wake of devastating floods. Watch in RealPlayer|
One of the two rooms in the village school was destroyed by the 2012 monsoon floods, while the other has barely enough light or space for the growing number of children waiting to resume their education.
Kandhkot is recovering slowly from the floods, which inundated vast swaths of land and paralysed life for the community here. Sharecroppers lost their winter crops, and fish farms were swept away.
But for the children of Kandhkot, a temporary learning centre (TLC) has provided a much-needed return to education.
Rukhsar, 13, is in Grade 5 at the TLC. Her family home was destroyed when the Todi embankment broke in the 2010 floods, forcing them to relocate to Karachi for several weeks. In 2012, they were displaced again and sheltered in a nearby town until the waters receded.
|© UNICEF Pakistan/2012/Jameel|
|Children play educational card games at the UNICEF-supported temporary learning centre in Kandhkot, Sindh province. Their school was damaged by the 2012 monsoon floods.|
“I missed my friends, my teachers, my books,” says Rukhsar. “It’s a relief to be in school once again.”
Rukhsar’s brothers have been forced to move around the country to ensure their education not be interrupted. Despite the separation from her loved ones, she is still hopeful for the future. “I want to become a doctor and help serve my community,” she says, as her classmates play instructional games at the TLC.
In nearby Tangwani, children guide us to a TLC in which about 60 students aged 5–10 are enrolled. It is situated just metres from the village school, which was so badly damaged by the floods that the villagers have chosen not to shelter in it while the waters recede. Instead, it’s been used as a storage space for whatever the villagers could salvage when the area became flooded.
Amina lives adjacent to the TLC. She taught Grades 1–5 for a few months. Because of the floods, she was forced to leave her position and tend to household work while her husband sought employment as a day labourer. Many of the men in her family have travelled in search of jobs. Those who have stayed behind tend the livestock that weren’t swept away.
|© UNICEF Pakistan/2012/Jameel|
|Rukhsar, 13, is in Grade 5 at the temporary learning centre. Her family was displaced by floods in 2010 and in 2012.|
“As a mother, I want my children to have a secure and carefree future,” says Amina. The female elders of the family suffer from various ailments because of the unhygienic water they drink and use to wash clothes and cooking utensils.
“I hope my children never suffer from any illness; we have seen how harmful they are, and I hope my children never get any diseases.”
Education cluster partners, including UNICEF, have established 743 TLCs in flood-affected areas – 439 in Sindh, 130 in Balochistan and 174 in Punjab. There are 70,994 children enrolled. Ninety-seven per cent of the TLCs have been established by UNICEF.
Currently, 14,084 children (8,210 boys and 5,874 girls) are benefitting from 420 TLCs that have been established in Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Kashmore districts in Sindh.
UNICEF needs additional funds to respond to the needs of children and women affected by this emergency. Flood-affected families in Pakistan continue to need critical, life-saving support, to help them rebuild and look towards a positive future.